Monday, December 30, 2002

NYTimes -- Freshman Senator Sees the Presidency as His Next Office

If Democrats hungry for a winner in 2004 are hunting for a presidential candidate who has what the last guy lacked, Senator John Edwards of North Carolina stands out as the anti-Gore.

Even to Gore loyalists, Mr. Edwards comes off as a more authentic Southerner who could have far more appeal in states like North Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky and the mother lode: Florida.

But the most daunting obstacle for Mr. Edwards is that the very qualities that make him stand out from the Democratic field might be the last thing voters want if they are preoccupied with terrorism and war. He may be charming and boyishly attractive. He may be — refreshingly — a political greenhorn. Yet does Mr. Edwards carry sufficient gravitas to protect and comfort Americans who fear that a terrorist bomb could explode in their neighborhood?

The politician Mr. Edwards speaks of most — and seems most to emulate — is a Republican, Senator John McCain. With admiration that can border on adulation, Mr. Edwards said, "He's direct, easy to understand, and he's strong."

Graham may be a better alternative than Edwards.

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